I used to think baking with sugar and flour and eggs and butter couldn’t happen at the same time as working out. Then again, I also used to think I didn’t really need to eat carbs or give my body rest days. Clearly, I realize I’ve been wrong. For some reason, I felt I either needed to take on the role of full-time baker who does not enjoy exercise at all OR personal trainer who finds purpose in fitness. Both are fine for certain people, but the truth is, neither of those ideas sounded appealing to me.
My mind does tend to operate in an all-or-nothing way, trying to convince me I need to be 1,000% dedicated to this hobby/career/lifestyle or not at all. Hmm, I wonder where my struggles with food and exercise stemmed from? (that’s sarcasm).
God gives us each a role, or maybe a couple or several or an amount that feels too heavy to take on at times. He creates us each and weaves within us passions and desires and skills unique to yourself and myself and the next person, and through friends and family and loved ones and fellow bloggers, He’s made this fact apparent to me lately.
In twenty-something years of life, I’ve tried to live out various roles. My first role, which I can barely even justify because I was, like, four years old, was that of the rebellious child. Once, she whacked her brother across the face with a tennis shoe for no reason. She also blurted out that Dad bought him a skateboard for Christmas on year. She also exhibited explosions, also known as “temper tantrums” some houses, of bad behavior throughout childhood years. These could really only be tamed by snacks (mainly sausage + cheese + crackers), I should add. This role lasted only a few years…
… which brings me to the next one I can vividly remember and think is worth noting – the has-it-all-together-girl. She lived through the last half of high school and the first half-ish of college, trying HARD to maintain said image and exhausting herself in doing so. You may be familiar with her, if you know me well, and I hope you see a different girl now. She ate the “healthiest” (read: most restricted) diet and worked out everyday, despite restless sleep patterns + overwhelming stress + aching joints + growling stomach. She worked her a$$ off to ace classes that just weren’t her thing, and let negative thoughts get the best of her. Her heart reminded her every single day, somehow, that she didn’t need to be this person, but she ignored that as much as possible. This girl also tried HARD to be the “perfect” Christian, as if such a role even exists. She ambitiously sought to bring everyone she could find to Jesus, misunderstanding how to truly lead by example and disregarding the fact that He designed her with spiritual strengths that don’t revolve around ministry and that. is. okay. because that’s not her role.
That girl operated solely under the absolutely-all-or-absolutely-nothing mindset. She wanted to escape discomfort immediately; she wanted control. But after years of suppressing the reality of discomfort and occasional un-control, she gave up, which was one of the best things she will probably ever do in life. “Giving up” meant surrendering fears and worries + letting go of strict standards + accepting messiness and unknown + embracing the beauty in those weird times. It taught her that if life were to always come in a pretty box with a neat bow and if her cookies always baked perfectly and if she understood and controlled every detail… well, then who would God be? She certainly is not meant for His role.
She is not meant for the full-time baker’s role or the personal trainer’s role, no matter how much she enjoys particular aspects of each and learns from experts who are meant for either one. She is (she thinks, at least) meant for demonstrating just one way to carry out this thing called “balance”. She absolutely adores a full day spent in the kitchen – pulling sweet blueberry cashew crumble bread and trial rounds of this or that recipe. AND she adores early mornings or afternoons at the gym – challenging her body and appreciating its strength.
Makes 1 loaf, ~8-10 slices
For the bread:
1/3 cup cane sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. almond butter (or any nut butter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour, plus extra for the blueberries
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 cup blueberries
Oil or butter, for greasing the pan
For the cashew crumble:
1/4 cup chopped cashews
2-3 tbsp. whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a loaf pan with oil or butter.
Whisk together the almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small cup and set aside to curdle.
In a large mixing bowl or stand-mixer, whisk together the sugar, eggs, nut butter, vanilla extract, and almond milk mixture until combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then stir in the spices.
Toss the blueberries with 1-2 tablespoons of flour to coat them and prevent them from falling to the bottom of the loaf while baking. Combine the crumble ingredients in a separate small bowl and set both aside.
Pour half the batter into the loaf pan and top with the crumble and half the blueberries. Carefully pour the rest of the batter on top and sprinkle with remaining blueberries.
Bake for 42-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for about one week.